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Meet Cedar Potts-Warner Our Sponsored Rider

When we're not in the stable, we're working on US Chia's next big project, and we have been working on something BIG for you! We have had the pleasure of taking on the journey of sponsoring a 2017 Thoroughbred Makeover contestant, and wanted to give you an inside look of exactly what it takes to take a retired racehorse from track, to show ring. So, meet Cedar Potts-Warner, our Team US Chia sponsored rider!

How did you get started riding horses?

I grew up in Jackson, MS. I was always passionate about horses and finally got to start riding regularly around 12. I received a foundation in dressage, jumping, driving (I owned a mini growing up) and natural horsemanship. I was always a writer and a rider, so upon high school graduation I moved to VA to attend Virginia Intermont College. I was double majoring in English and Equine Studies. Unfortunately, the school began closing from financial trouble, so I transferred to Green Mountain College in VT. There I followed through with my English degree. They didn't have an equine program, but I joined the equestrian club and rode frequently at a local barn. I graduated in May 2009. After working the summer at a camp teaching riding, and stressing about my next step in life, I found a working student position that felt like a fit. So, in August 2009 I moved to KY. It was a position with master horseman, JP Giacomini on a beautiful 100+ acre Lusitano and Andalusian breeding and training farm.

How was it transitioning to the horse world in Kentucky?

I began as a working student: long, hard hours. BUT, you get out of it what you put into it. I learned a lot. I was involved with everything: barn upkeep, general horse care, mare care and foal watch, foaling, foal handling, breeding, stallion handling, hoof care (including barefoot trimming), and all elements of training. From there, I became the Barn Manager. Being organized and having a knack to work with people and horses is always a benefit. There came a point though, where I decided to move off the farm. I relinquished my title and picked up a new one: Assistant Trainer.

What kind of experience do you have with horses?

Experience:

-Young horse handling from foal on up;
-Started many horses. Some still in training at the farm, others until they were sold.
-Trained client's horses in need of a good foundation. As well as client's horses with specific problems.
-Trained mares, stallions, and geldings.
-Trained beginning to upper level work: w/t/c, halt, rein back, extended t/c, shoulder-in, counter canter, half-pass, lead changes, canter pirouettes, piaffe, passage, spanish walk, bowing.
-Trained different breeds: Lusitanos, Andalusians, QH, Standardbred, QH/Lusitano, TB, Arabian, Friesian/Warmblood, Gaited, Warmblood, TB/Percheron.
-Became proficient in Endotapping (It's a relaxation method created by JP Giacomini).
-Taught lessons in beginner and upper level riding.
What kind of success have you had within the horse industry?
In 2010 I rode a 3-year-old stallion (his first time off the farm!) in JP Giacmomini's demos at the World Equestrian Games for 16 days. I demonstrated Endotapping, the technique to relax horses and release endorphins.
-In 2014 I rode a 6-year-old stallion, Zorro, in demos at the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event where I performed a Pas de Deux with JP and Zorro's full brother, Orion. I demonstrated extended trot, canter half passes, flying changes, canter pirouettes and passage. We wore the traditional baroque attire associated with the Andalusian breed.
-I train and ride Totil Hit who is by Totilas and out of Donnerhall and Sandro Hit bloodlines. He has been featured in a training series written by JP and published in the magazine, Warmbloods Today. We made the cover of one issue!
-I competed in the 2016 TB Makeover. I placed 2nd in Freestyle and 12th in Dressage.
-I have trained Zorro to bridle-less  Grand Prix level
Why are you choosing to compete in this year's TB Makeover Contest?
My trainer and boss, JP, told me it was time to "make my own story." I had also been training horses without super clear goals (we weren't going to shows every month etc.). So, I thought it sounded great! 
How was last year's TB Makeover Contest?
It was an amazing experience. I went into it planning to have fun and enjoy it! Then I got the preliminary results from the Freestyle, and Majestic Lad and I were in 1st! It was definitely a high of my life. I ended up placing 2nd by a few decimals (and to a very impressive duo), but I couldn't be more thankful for the opportunity. I had chills going into my final ride; one of those surreal moments. It was only my horse's second time off the farm and his first overnight since racing. He was pretty energized being there, but he stayed connected and performed for me (I think he actually liked the applause from the stands!). I met so many great people too. It's really neat the quality of people, and the comradeship that goes on. Professionals supporting each other (especially when competing against each other!) is not always seen, but it is in the people that surround the Makeover. The OTTB really has a great support system because of the RRP.
Can you tell me a little bit about your horse for this year's contest?
His name is Alien Gray and he's a 4-year-old gelding. He raced 6 times, 2nd being his highest placing. He earned a little over 8k. He is by Unbridled's Song and out of a Storm Cat mare. The main two reasons I picked him were for his demeanor/personality and his conformation. When I went to see him, as soon as I stepped into the stall, he came over to greet me. I want a horse who wants to be connected and involved. It sets them up to want to participate in the training process, which makes training much more fun! Another thing that helps make training more fun, is a horse who doesn't struggle with it's balance. Alien's conformation is very balanced, so that was another key. Alien will be for sale, so I was happy to find a calmer horse. I hope to be able to promote him to any buyer. I want to feel that they'll be safe, even if they don't have a ton of experience and I feel like he'll be that. He's very sweet, calm and obliging.
What are your goals for this year's makeover?
I'm hoping to compete in two disciplines again: Dressage and Freestyle. Of course, I'd like to get in the top placings again, but if I even want to imagine getting there, then I have to focus on the building blocks: the basic training, the horse's health care and hoof care. No horse, no glory. And inadequate training, the holes will show. I want to have a positive experience for both Alien and I, and hopefully find him the perfect home!
Can you tell me a little bit about your horse's diets?
Both of my OTTBs get a mix of sweet feed and equine senior to help give them enough calories without too much energy. I also give them supplements. I've had them on spirulina, kelp and probiotics at times, but I rotate those. I have them both on turmeric to help with joints. They get a salt/mineral mix and have free choice to a plain salt block. They get as much hay as they want. It's an alfalfa mix. They don't have much grass in their paddock, but I take them out to graze when I get the time.
Why are you excited to add US Chia seeds to your training program for the contest this year?
I'm excited about using US Chia seeds for all of the many benefits! I knew it was good for you, but I was still amazed when I started reading about it on your site; it really has a lot of benefits. These benefits are specifically helpful to OTTBs, which is really nice! It's high in magnesium: OTTBs are often body sore and magnesium helps release muscle contractions. It helps with digestion: OTTBs are ulcer prone. Hyrdration: keeping things more fluid will help prevent impactions in these sensitive horses. And those are just some of the benefits! So, I have many reasons to be excited to use US Chia seeds!

We are so excited to have Cedar and Alien on our team. We look forward for watching them compete in October at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Please help us support Cedar and Alien on this journey, and follow us for regular updates on their progress!